Pros: Organic cotton components. Contains no dioxide, pesticides, dyes, or other toxins; absorbent and comfortable.
Cons: Can be more expensive than traditional “bargain” brands, depending on where you buy them. Not available in most conventional grocery or drug stores.
Ever watch a husband buy period-related paraphernalia? I have, and it’s a hoot. They’re all embarrassed and weird. It’s like they want to fall through the floor. It’s not surprising. Few people want to talk periods, and almost no one wants to talk about menstrual pads and tampons. The subject is simply taboo. Even women are a little weird about the topic. We share suggestions for makeup, hair products, and creams, but few of us are giving each other tips on the best pads to buy — at least in my circles. That’s why I was excited to get an email from the Natracare company spokeswoman asking if I’d like to review a few of their products. While I have used some of the company’s product line for a while now, I haven’t tried them all. Plus, I figured it’s time for women to start looking out for each other, especially when it comes to stuff that touches mucus membranes! My review helps me do my part.
Why does your choice of monthly protection matter? Tampons and pads are classified as medical devices by the FDA, which means the manufacturers don’t have to disclose the ingredients on the packaging. And what’s inside? There’s no way to tell, but most contain dioxins — which can cause cancer — that are created during the bleaching process. There’s a great EPA report about dioxins here, but here’s an excerpt: “Studies have shown that exposure to dioxins at high enough levels may cause a number of adverse health effects, including cancer. The health effects associated with dioxins depend on a variety of factors including: the level of exposure, when someone was exposed, and for how long and how often someone is exposed.” Since women get their period for upwards of 40 years, think about how much exposure you have when — if you use tampons — you’ve got dioxin-containing material squished up inside of you for three to seven days straight!
There are other reasons to look for more natural feminine products, too. Most traditional products contain plastic, dyes, and other not-so-environmentally-friendly ingredients as well. It’s a real problem, especially for young girls and women who are looking to avoid chemicals and synthetic materials.
Anyway, I was already pretty familiar with Natracare’s Ultra Pads and Natural Panty Liners. I’ve loved them for a while because they are made of certified organic non-GMO cotton, are very comfortable, and seem to work pretty well. I never tried the pads made for overnight or heavy days, though. I was afraid that they wouldn’t work. I figured no plastic meant less protection. Well, I was absolutely wrong! I tried the Super with Wings pads on the second night of my period, which is always the heaviest day. It worked like a charm! No leakage, no mess! As someone who is used to one of the most popular mainstream pads Infinity line, I was really surprised that the Natracare offering was just as good.
The options with wings — a must-have in my book — are just as nice and easy to use as the traditional offerings out there. I also really, really liked that they are wrapped in plain white packaging. Nothing screams, “I have my period,” like a bright green or yellow packaged pad sitting in your purse. In terms of thinness: I absolutely love the Ultra Thin liners because they are longer and slightly thicker than the majority of what you can find in CVS so they are great for the first or last day of your period. Overall, there was a pad for every day of my period. Plus, when it was time to throw them away I felt good that they were biodegradable and compostable. (Although I was not putting them into my compost bin. Natural as possible and all, but that seemed a little much for me.)
The company also sent me wipes, which I tucked into my purse. My little one, especially, is constantly getting dirty. Between sticky fingers and markered-on palms (and the time she decided to draw a bracelet on her wrist!), we are constantly washing our hands. The Natracare wipes are marketed as organic cotton with organic apricot oil, camomile, and linden. They contain no parabens, sodium laurel sulfate, preservatives, or chlorine and are biodegradable and compostable, according to the company. They smelled really good and were large enough and thick enough to wash the messiest hands. (They measure 8-inches by 7-inches.)
The main problem with both the pads and the wipes is that I have to make a trip over to either Whole Foods to get them — or order them on Amazon. Over the years I’ve kept them on hand by hitting Whole Foods and buying in bulk. Lately, however, I have been buying them on Amazon because they are cheaper. In fact, on Amazon the Ultra with wings Natracare pads actually cost less than the Always Infinity I was using ($.31 per pad as compared to $.39 per pad). The liners are about the same price.
Unfortunately, I didn’t try the tampons the company sent because I am not a tampon kinda gal. I have distributed samples to some friends and will let you all know what the consensus is when I can. Overall, I was very happy with my Natracare experience, and will be handing them to my girls in the hopefully far off future when they need them.